Resource – Issue Brief on the Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the Washington Region’s Labor Force

At Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we believe that every woman should be economically secure. Our goal is to build better opportunities for our region’s women and girls, so that they can become agents of change in their own families and communities. In this issue brief, published in September 2015, we focus on promising approaches to building economic security for women through workforce development.

In the issue brief, Investing in Change: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the Washington Region’s Labor Force, we share the latest employment and labor force participation trends for working women in the Washington region, with a particular focus on low-income women. We identify some of the strategies of successful workforce development programs that support these women, and conclude with concrete steps that funders, policymakers, advocates, employers, and individuals can take to provide women with the effective education and job training programs they need to build economic security and change the trajectory of their lives. Read the entire issue brief, here.

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Grantee Partner Spotlight: Northern Virginia Family Service’s Training Futures

At Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we invest in pathways out of poverty for women and girls, including job training and post-secondary education opportunities that provide access to careers that offer benefits and pay family-sustaining wages. The Foundation first started supporting Northern Virginia Family Service’s Training Futures program through Stepping Stones in 2005. Training Futures provides the training and skills that help under-employed and unemployed women in Northern Virginia secure a rewarding career with the potential for professional advancement, family sustaining wages and permanent employment.

When it comes to helping women build their economic security and earnings potential, Training Futures is one of the nation’s most effective workforce development programs. More than 90 percent of all participants who enroll in the program graduate, and 80 percent of all Training Futures graduates find administrative jobs with benefits paying an average of $12.50 per hour within a year after completing the program.

Training Futures’ six-month intensive curriculum is taught in a simulated office setting and arms trainees with those critical skills that can be applied across industries, including: customer service, public speaking, office administration, computer skills, and records management. During the program, participants complete an internship and are co-enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College. Trainees can receive up to 21 college credits for their Training Futures courses – providing a bridge and pathway to additional education. After graduation, trainees continue to benefit from wrap-around services, including one-on-one counseling, interview coaching, resume preparation and job search assistance.

Lidia VenturaLidia, a single mother and graduate of Training Futures, found the program while pursuing her GED. Prior to enrolling, Lidia said she was constantly thinking, “I’ll get my GED, but then what?” Training Futures helped her answer that question by showing her that it was possible to go from working two jobs on nights and weekends to securing a full-time position with benefits and regular business hours.

In 2014, after completing a three-week internship with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, Lidia was offered a full-time position as an executive assistant. Since then, she’s impressed her employers, received a raise, and is now able to spend more time at home raising her 9-year-old son. Lidia says the quality time has not only been critical for their relationship, but she’s also seen an improvement in her son’s academic performance. He has been motivated by her experiences and now dreams of receiving his master’s degree one day. Thanks to the credits she earned at Northern Virginia Community College during the Training Futures program, Lidia is also working toward achieving her longtime dream: getting her Associates degree in accounting. She acknowledges that without the support of Training Futures and Washington Area Women’s Foundation she would never have been able to imagine achieving all of these things.

But the most rewarding experience Lidia says thus far has been the opportunity to help change other people’s lives by introducing them to Training Futures. She says, “I couldn’t be more blessed. I don’t even have the words to describe Training Future’s impact on my life. Where I work, I have the ability to speak to a lot of people who could benefit from the program and I tell everyone I can about it.”

Resource – Issue Brief on Girls’ Economic Security in the Washington Region.

In April 2015, Washington Area Women’s Foundation released our issue brief on the economic security of girls in the Washington region.

Women and girls are powerful social change agents in their families and communities. However, their power and potential can be helped or hindered early in life. Many girls in our region face significant obstacles that not only affect their well-being today, but their educational success, earning potential and economic security in the future. By investing in girls’ lives, we ensure that they grow up and enter adulthood on the best possible footing, empowered to have a positive impact in their communities.

This issue brief highlights key issues and demographic trends in the Washington region, and dives specifically into issues of poverty and opportunity that affect girls’ capacity to attain economic security in adulthood. Our objective is to better understand girls’ experiences and circumstances and to work together with the community to identify strategies that reduce barriers, increase opportunities and increase the number of girls who are able to live economically secure lives both today and for generations to come. Read the entire issue brief, here.Girls Issue Brief Cover


Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative

Managed by The Women’s Foundation, the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative (ECEFC) is a collective of foundation and corporate investors dedicated to supporting systemic approaches that increase quality, capacity and access to early care and education in the Washington region. Learn more about the Collaborative.

Resource – Early Care and Education in the Washington Region

Early care and education investments help prepare low-income children ages zero to five for kindergarten, a critical opportunity to increase readiness and close the achievement gap, provide an important work support for low-income working families and support the professional development and advancement of early care and education providers. In this fact sheet, we explore early care and education in our region. Click here to read the full fact sheet.

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Resource – Gender Wage Gap Fact Sheet

More than ever, families rely on the wages of women. In the Washington region, 72 percent of mothers with young children participate in the workforce, and at the national level, 40 percent  of mothers are either the sole or primary breadwinner for their family. Equal pay would reduce poverty levels among women, and would increase every woman’s ability to provide for herself and her family.

In this fact sheet, we explore the data and key facts you need to know about the gender wage gap in our region.

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Building Assets and Lives

With tax season in full swing, many of us may be dreading the moment when we have to sit down with our piles of receipts and W-2s and fill out our tax returns.  But for some women in our community, tax time could be the moment when life changes.

Griselda Zarrilla is a cleaner who lives in Southeast D.C.  The mother of two teenage girls, Griselda went to one of our Grantee Partners, Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB), for help with her taxes and discovered that she was eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the federal credit for low- to moderate-income working taxpayers.  After having her taxes prepared at a free tax prep site, Griselda received a significant refund.

She’s using the money to pay the mortgage on her home and to send her daughters to college.  “Providing an education to my children is my main goal,” Griselda says.  “I want them to have all the opportunities I didn’t have.”

CAAB’s work has changed the life of one woman who is passing the benefits on to her children; and Griselda’s is just one story out of many.  Last year, Grantee Partners helped women gain more than $3.7 million in assets.  Two-thirds of that was from the EITC.  That’s nearly $4 million that benefitted not only women, but the rest of their families as well.

CAAB has been a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner since 2005.  This nonprofit’s mission is to put people on the road to financial independence.  Their programs help low- and moderate-income individuals and families improve their money management skills, increase their savings and build wealth by investing wisely. CAAB achieves these goals by sponsoring financial workshops and a matched savings program to promote home ownership, postsecondary education and small business development.

CAAB and Community Tax Aid, another Foundation Grantee Partner, are involved in the DC Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign, which provides free, high quality financial and tax preparation services to thousands of taxpayers in D.C. CAAB believes that anyone can become a college graduate, homeowner or successful business owner and is working to ensure that all District residents have opportunities to save and invest in their dreams